Donor's AttentionWhen was the last time you were confused?

Yeah, I know. For some of us, it’s a daily occurrence.

And it’s not fun.

I don’t know anyone who LIKES being bewildered.

I want you to really get this:

Imagine you’re listening to someone who is trying to explain something. You’re just not following it and no matter how many times they try, you just don’t get it.

Reminds me of my physics classes in college. No matter how many questions I asked or how many times they tried to explain, I just couldn’t understand.

Wound up changing my major so I could get out of physics class. True story.

Is the reason you don’t understand because you’re not a good listener? Or is it because they’re a bad communicator?

Either way, it’s a problem, because unless the speaker finds a different way to convey their message, it’s lost.

Now, think about this – how many times have your donors been in that spot of being confused and not quite comprehending what you’re saying?
You’re trying your best to help them understand your programs and your mission, and they’re just not following you.

It gets worse. When they don’t understand, they don’t give.

So, here’s the real question:

Whose responsibility is it to clarify and simplify the message?

Yep. It’s yours.

Good messaging vs bad messaging


Donor's AttentionMessaging is key to fundraising.

When people understand what you’re saying, they feel something, then decide whether to act. If they don’t understand, they won’t give, simple as that.
Good messaging:

  • Resonates. It “lands” in the heart and mind of the listener/reader and makes sense. When your message resonates, you’ll usually see people nodding their head in agreement with you.
  • Motivates. It moves them to want to give. They understand the significance of the work your organization does and they want to support it.
  • Harmonizes. The right message gets people singing from the same sheet of music, so that everyone is in tune. You, your donors, and your volunteers all work together in harmony to deliver your nonprofit’s services to those who need it.

On the other hand, bad messaging bores people. It’s what causes them to stop reading your newsletter or appeal. It’s what starts their exit from your donor family.

Most bad messaging is very ego centric. Look at how much more interesting it is when it’s donor-centric:


Ego-Centric Donor-Centric
For the last 20 years, we’ve been saving dogs and cats in our community. For the past 20 years, we’ve partnered with folks just like you to make sure that animals in our community get the care they need to live happy, healthy lives.
Through our 6 programs, we provide service to over 500 dogs and cats each month. Because of your support, we’re able to provide loving care to over 500 dogs and cats each month.
Our service area includes 10 counties in our region. We’re helping animals in 10 counties find loving homes.
We’re the only certified _____ rescue in our area. Our biggest accomplishment is helping dogs like Rex find a loving, forever home.
We’re a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Your gift is tax deductible. Check with your accountant for more details.

The donor-centric messaging is juicier. It’s more interesting and compelling.

The ego-centric messaging is boring. It’s very inwardly focused and makes people outside the organization feel like outsiders.

Bad news folks – all of us have shared the ego-centric crap at one point or another!

And here’s the good news – you can change it, starting TODAY!

Why vs What

Donor's AttentionHere’s another way to think about this: spend more time talking about the Why versus the What.


If I were to ask you WHY your nonprofit does what it does, what would you say?

“To change lives”

“To save lives”

“To give people a chance to change”

“To give kids a brighter future.”

“To cure disease.”

“To end hunger.”

“To eliminate euthanasia of animals in our community.”

“To make the world a better place.”

Yours is either one of those or similar.

The WHY is the good stuff. It’s what we care about and what we can sink our teeth into. It’s what motivates us to give.

Unfortunately, most folks spend their time talking about WHAT they do and HOW it gets done.

Anytime you start spouting details about programs, you’re talking about the WHAT.

More bad news – people don’t care about the WHAT. They don’t really care about HOW you get things done either.

When you talk about WHY your organization does what it does, it moves people closer to giving. When you talk about WHAT, you’re boring people and pushing them away.

Here’s a good example of WHY messaging from our client BESTWA. It’s from an email appeal raising money to pay customs fees for a shipment of medicine. Notice that they talk about WHY the medicine is important, exactly how much they need, and exactly how you can help.

No surprise that they raised the money in just a few days.

Now, here’s part of a letter I received a couple of years ago. See if this moves you to give:


Ok, yeah, there’s another page with more info… but it’s a full page of “Ministry Impact Initiatives” [whatever those are!] that I have no desire to read. I read the first one and it’s jargon, acronyms, and insider language I don’t understand.

The bottom line

As I said to a client this morning, your messaging should work for the person with the least amount of knowledge of your organization. If they barely know anything, will they be able to read and understand what you’re saying?

Will they get it? Or will you lose them.

Trust me on this one – you can’t afford to lose them.

Make your messaging

  • Simple
  • Easy to understand
  • Concise
  • Jargon free

You’ll get more donations and your donors will appreciate you more.

Fall Fundraising AppealHappy Fall, Y’all!
The leaves are starting to turn, the nights are cooler, and everything has pumpkin spice in it!
Fall also signals the start of Fundraising Season.
Fundraising Season runs between now and the end of the year. It’s the time when people think about helping others and what charitable gifts they want to make before the year is done.
One of the best ways to ask for (and get!) donations this time of year is with a fundraising appeal sent through regular postal mail (sometimes called direct mail).
If you’re not asking for a gift between now and the end of the year, you’re conspicuously absent. And you’ll get left out.
You see, no one ever wakes up in the morning and says “I feel like giving some money away. Where’s the phone book? I’m gonna find me a nonprofit!”
If your Fall fundraising appeal is all planned out, well done. If it’s already in process or in the mail, excellent work!
If you haven’t even started thinking about it yet, don’t panic. You still have time, but you need to get on it now.


Before you start


Before you open up a clean Word file and start writing the letter, get your ducks in a row. It’ll help you minimize your costs and maximize your return.


1. Clean up your mailing list. Don’t send your appeal to people who don’t want to hear from you anymore. A clean list, with the most current email and mailing addresses, will save you money and help you be more accurate in donor communications.
2. Plan it out. What story will you tell in the letter? What will you ask people to give? What difference will that money make? When will the letter need to go in the mail? Planning out your appeal can help you get it done in a short period of time.
3. Set goals for your appeal. Don’t just mail out a letter and hope to raise money. Be clear about the specific results you want from your appeal. There’s actually a LOT of math you can do to calculate the results you might get (I usually crunch these numbers for my clients). At a minimum, consider these goals:
  • The largest number of gifts possible (exactly how many would that be for your nonprofit?).
  • The highest possible gift from each donor (what is your typical average gift size?).
  • The smallest cost possible for the mailing (will you print, fold, & stuff in house or outsource it?).
  • The best return on investment (ROI) for the dollars you spend.


Writing the letter


Fall Fundraising AppealMost fundraising appeals are crap. They’re written by committee (deathly mistake!) or written by someone who doesn’t understand the psychology behind a successful appeal. They think they can just throw some words on a page and then sit back and collect the money.
Bad news – it doesn’t work that way.
A terrible appeal talks about how great the organization is, how long they’ve been around, and how amazing their work is.
A great appeal tugs the donor’s heartstrings and moves them to reach for their wallet.
See the difference? It’s about who the letter is focused on. More on that in a minute.
Here are some tips to help you write the best possible letter.

1. Be donor-focused. Don’t write an appeal that’s all about you. Don’t talk about how great the year was or how challenging it’s been – no one wants to hear that. Instead, tell a story about someone whose life has been changed by the work your nonprofit does. It’s way more interesting and engaging. Being self-centered is the biggest mistake you can make with your appeal.


2. Write to one person. As you write your appeal, don’t think about the hundreds of people who will receive it. Instead, picture one donor in your mind, and write to that one person. Your letter will be way more conversational and interesting.


3. Start with a short, hooky first sentence and tell a story. Short and hooky will grab the reader’s attention. If you start by talking about your organization or your programs, you’ll lose the reader. The first sentence should grab them and pull them in. The next sentence keeps them reading, and so on.


4. Only include the essentials. It’s tempting to tell EVERYTHING about your organization. After all, you want your donor to understand how it all works, right? Don’t. It’s overwhelming. Only share what the reader needs to know to make the decision to give. Anything else just gets in the way.
5. Have an 8-year old approve it. Seriously. Hand your letter to a kid and see if they understand it. If they get stuck on complex sentence structure or jargon, go back and try it again. Your letter should be super simple to read and understand. 

Sandy’s Appeal Template


I write a LOT of letters for clients. Once I get the story and the angle in my head, I can usually whip a letter out in about 30 minutes and my clients love the results they get! In a recent Mastermind training, I rewrote an appeal for a homeless ministry, and they raised over $20,000 with it!

Here’s the template I follow when I write a letter:


  1. Grab the reader’s attention with a short, compelling first line that begins to tell a story.
  2. Continue by telling a story that demonstrates the need met by your organization. Keep the paragraphs short – maybe a sentence or two. It makes the letter easier to read.
  3. Pivot, and talk about the gap between the number of lives currently being changed and the number still waiting.
  4. Transition into why you need your reader’s help and the urgency of the need.
  5. Make the Ask. Ask for a specific amount of money and talk about what that money will do.
  6. End the letter with a clear call to action (“Use the enclosed envelope to send your best gift today”).
  7. Use the signature of the top-ranking staff person.
  8. In a short P.S., repeat the Ask.

This template works. Every. Time.

Add some sizzle


Want to make your letter irresistible? Try one of these:

  • Add photos of the person/animal in the story.
  • Add a link to a video online where the donor can see and hear more about the person/animal from the story.
  • Follow up the print letter with a shorter email version to remind the donor to give.
  • Support the story in the letter with social media posts, especially if you can link to the video.
  • Have your Board members add hand-written notes on the letters to people they personally know.


Need more help with your Fall appeal? The Get Fully Funded system has a whole section on creating a winning appeal, and includes a Direct Mail Plan Worksheet, sample themes, Sample Production Schedules, Cost and Revenue Estimation Formulas, tips for keeping your data clean, and an Appeal Proofing Checklist. Get your system at

Thanks to Zach Hagopian with Accelevents for today’s article.

Those who have organized a successful fundraiser know the importance of having great sponsors. Whether your event is large or small, sponsors bring a level of legitimacy to your cause, while also significantly contributing to your proceeds. This combination of increased revenue and added exposure is the key to scaling the size of your fundraiser, year after year. Additionally, a healthy collection of sponsors tells your donors that your fundraising event is worth attending!


Fake Dictionary, definition of the word sponsor.

At this point, you’re probably thinking that bringing in sponsors to your next fundraiser is a no-brainer – and it is! However, the path to attracting and closing many sponsorships can be long and difficult. For that reason, we have created the Ultimate Guide to Fundraising Sponsorship. In this guide, we will walk you through all aspects of sponsorship, focusing on the key areas below:


  1. Opportunity Identification
  2. Building a Sponsorship Package
  3. Soliciting Sponsors
  4. Acknowledgment and Follow Up


As fundraiser organizers ourselves, we believe this guide will be one of your best tools in attracting new sponsors, growing your event year over year, and increasing donations for your cause!


Opportunity Identification


The very first step that you (and your committee) should take is identifying the opportunity for sponsorship at your next fundraising event. While sponsorship can apply to fundraising events of all sizes, the nature of sponsorship can vary greatly. To begin this process, consider some of the following criteria:


  1. Size – How large is your event? Do you have an expected attendance? Estimating the size of your audience will help you gauge the size of sponsors to pursue. If you plan on having a very large event with 400+ attendees, you will have a great chance of attracting large sponsors on a national level. Smaller events may have more luck focusing on smaller sponsors coming from local businesses in the city or surrounding towns where the event will take place.


  1. Audience – Knowing your attending audience will be key to understanding your sponsorship approach. By identifying certain elements of your audience (age, employment, geographic location), you can tailor your sponsorship targeting in order to start with the most relevant sponsors.


Our annual event consists of over 1,000 young professionals and millennials. Knowing this about our audience allows our committee to target sponsors interested in gaining exposure to such an audience. For us, this may include younger startups, or corporations that are keen on growing their consumer base from a younger demographic.


  1. Event Location & Online Presence – Your event location will include both your physical venue and any potential digital or online plans you may have. Knowing your venue ahead of time will allow you to create a more informed sponsorship package, detailing specific exposure opportunities for your sponsors. These typically include logo placements, banners, and mentions at the event.


While these physical elements will be key to attracting sponsors, knowing your online or digital presence will also be a major draw for sponsors. Do you plan on having an event website, Eventbrite page, and social media pages dedicated to your fundraiser? If so, your event will become a much more attractive candidate for sponsorship, as potential sponsors will see the clear value in generating online impressions.


Pro Tip: When creating online “real-estate” for your fundraiser, try to plan ahead and create immersive or engaging elements for your fundraiser. Using your online pages to create teasers for your audience, or even allowing them to donate through a mobile or online fundraiser will create a fun experience for your audience. Your potential sponsors will be drawn to this engaging experience, and will be eager to support your cause in order to be associated with this positive experience!


Once your team has considered the criteria above, you should have a better understanding of the opportunity for sponsorship at your event – both in the total scope of sponsorship dollars you can bring in, and the type of sponsors you can begin to prospect.


Using your knowledge of the above, you can then set a goal for the amount of sponsorship your team should try to secure. Set a firm goal, and communicate it early and often to your committee. Keep in mind that newer events may attract less sponsorship than a mature event with a proven track record.



 Building Your Sponsorship Package


Now that you have gauged the sponsorship potential for your fundraising event, it’s time to create your fundraiser sponsorship package. The fundraiser sponsorship package is an amazing tool and resource for your committee to use as they prospect and hopefully close many sponsorships for your fundraiser.


When creating your sponsorship package, it’s important to remember that the major function of the document will be to clearly communicate the inspiration, message, and history behind your event, while also providing information on the different sponsorship tiers available to potential supporters.


And while information below will be a great guide for you to follow when creating your own sponsorship package, feel free to get creative and add any feedback you have in the comments section of this post!

  1. Event DescriptionFirst and foremost, take a small portion of your sponsorship package to describe your upcoming fundraiser. Key information to include will be:


  • The event name
  • Date and time
  • The cause or organization that the fundraiser will be supporting
  • Venue name and location
  • The event theme and dress code


  1. Inspiration / HistoryOne of the most important sections of your sponsorship package will be where you describe the inspiration and history behind your event. Providing a glimpse into the origin of your event and the story around the great cause / organization you are supporting will help your event stand out among the hundreds of sponsorship requests potential supporters receive. If you have been running your event for more than a year, be sure to include information on the progress or growth the event has made over that time. This could be growth in attendance, proceeds raised, or both!


After describing your team’s motivation and the history behind your fundraising event, you can also use a small portion of your sponsorship package to talk about the organization or cause you are supporting. Here, include the mission statement of the organization and any important progress or history it has made since its origin.


  1. Event StatisticsNow it’s time to focus on some of the hard data. Do you expect high attendance? Maybe your audience isn’t huge, but consists mostly of a target demographic that you know your sponsors are dying to get in front of. For our annual Boston fundraiser, we focus heavily on our large attendance, consisting mostly of millennials and young professionals.


Some other sources of data that you may be able to pull from include:


  • Digital Presence – This will include anything from the traffic / impressions you may be observing on your fundraising event web page, to the number of fans or people in attendance on your Facebook event page. One tip here – make sure you set up a Google Analytics account for your site. This is easy to do, and will allow you to capture impressions and stats to share with your sponsors each year.


  • Survey Data – If you plan on holding your fundraising event annually, send out a post-event survey. In the survey, you can gain insights on what your audience thought of your event, but can also ask questions about your attendees’ ages, occupations, and preferences. Once you’ve collected this data, you can include some of the stats directly in your sponsorship package in order to entice your sponsors.


  • Yearly Proceeds – Again, it will always help to highlight any growth you’ve seen in your proceeds donated, year after year.


  1. The AskNow that you’ve provided your potential sponsors with some amazing context behind your event, and stats that will have them chomping at the bit, it’s time to ask for their participation and help!


A strong call to action will provide potential sponsors with the next steps they must take in order to participate as a sponsor. In addition, it is always helpful if you can provide information on what a potential contribution would mean for the organization or cause that your event is supporting. For example, will a contribution of $1,000 provide meals to impoverished children for a week?  Let your sponsors know these details, so that they can visualize the impact their organization will have.

  1. Sponsorship TiersThe most critical portion of your sponsorship package will be the sponsorship levels that you determine for your potential sponsors. These tiers describe the different aspects of each sponsorship (level of exposure, presence at the event, tickets, etc.) and correspond to increasing levels of contribution.


Based on the size of your event, you can determine the different monetary levels that you’d like to assign to each tier of sponsorship. We provide an example of a great sponsorship package used for a real fundraising event at the end of this post!


Typically, levels are broken into categories to make your ask clearer. We use categories such as Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, but feel free to create your own custom names that play into your event.

Common aspects that are included in most sponsorship packages include:


  • Naming Rights – Naming rights are one of the most prominent attributes a fundraising event can offer to sponsors, and typically include a sponsor providing a monetary contribution in order to have their name tied to a certain portion of the fundraising event. For example, a sponsor company may donate $25,000 in order to have the event itself named after the company – i.e., The [Company Name here] Winter Fundraiser.


For smaller contributions, you may be inclined to offer naming rights for different portions of your event (the DJ booth, the open bar, etc.).


  • Logo & Name Recognition – This can include a sponsor’s logo on all digital elements of your fundraiser, including email or online communications, social media pages, and your website.


Additionally, logo recognition will include any physical signage present at your event, such as on event banners, programs, or even your photo backdrops.


  • Tickets to the Event – Traditionally, most of your sponsorship tiers will include tickets to your event for the sponsoring organization. The higher the contribution, the more tickets you can offer to the sponsor!
  1. Contact InfoFinally, don’t forget to include your contact information and the address to which your sponsors can send their contributions, as well as any materials you will need from them (logo files, etc.).Keep in mind that your sponsorship package is a great way to start conversations with your sponsors. Emphasize that your different tiers are just guidelines – leave sponsorship opportunities open to discussion, in case your potential sponsors are interested in a custom experience outside of the original details provided in your sponsorship package.


Soliciting Sponsors


At this point, hopefully you’ve worked with your committee to identify the sponsorship opportunity your fundraising event will have, and you’ve also finished creating a compelling sponsorship package.


Now it’s time to start contacting and closing sponsorship deals for your fundraiser!


Because this is arguably the most important part of fundraiser sponsorship, we’ve broken this section down into a few subsections:


  1. Best Channels of Communication
  2. Creating a Prospecting & Outreach Plan
  3. Process & Example Outreach Messages
  4. General Tips and Tricks


Coming from years of experience in running special events and fundraisers, the strategies below have been working great for us – but feel free to add in your own strategies, too!


  1. Best Channels of Communication


Phone and Email – The largest portion of your sponsorship communication and outreach will consist of sending emails and making phone calls to potential sponsors. As with many sales processes, your goal here will be to contact as many potential sponsors as you can, in order to create a pipeline of potential donors.


Social Media – We’ve found that social media can be a very powerful tool to start conversations with potential companies and sponsors. Social channels that have worked best for us include:


  • Facebook – Surprisingly, the Facebook Messenger tool has proven to be one of the most successful outreach channels we’ve used. To use Facebook Messenger, first search for the companies you’d like to connect with. On their Facebook Business page, they should have a messenger functionality that you can use to contact them. Here, we’ve seen response rates around 90%!


  • LinkedIn – Our favorite method here is to have you and your committee comb through your LinkedIn contacts, seeing where your friends and contacts work, and asking them for potential connections to their employers for sponsorship opportunities.


  • Twitter – We’ve also found success in using Twitter to open doors with potential sponsors. Tweeting directly at companies can result in a quick response from them, offering an email address for the right department or employee to contact.


Friends and Family – While the above channels may be the most time-consuming and can be responsible for a large volume of sponsors, your most effective prospecting, and potentially your largest opportunities, will come from leveraging your network of friends and family.


Your friends and family are people who already trust you and will be able to more easily relate to the cause you’re supporting. Furthermore, they should be more than willing to connect you with any contacts they may know who might be interested in participating as a sponsor for your fundraising event. Ask your friends and family to make these connections for you, and try to set up phone calls or in-person meetings with these potential sponsors.


  1. Creating a Prospecting & Outreach Plan


Once you have identified potential channels for communication with sponsors, we suggest creating a prospecting and outreach plan. To create an effective plan, follow these tips:


  1. Set a goal for both yourself and your committee, for how many outreaches each person will make each week. An outreach consists of an email, conversation, meeting, or phone call with a new potential sponsor.


  1. Have your team track the conversations they are having and the companies that they are communicating with.


  1. Meet regularly with your committee in order to discuss the status of potential sponsorships, and to talk about any new tips or strategies your team has uncovered throughout the process.


  1. Don’t be worried about having multiple people contacting the same company from different angles! We’ve found this approach to be effective in convincing your target companies to participate in sponsorship for your event.


  1. Create competitions for your team as a means of motivation, and provide consistent updates on which members of your committee have closed sponsorship deals.


  1. Process and Example Messages


To help you and your team tackle the process of closing sponsors for your event, we’ve put together some real examples of messages that we have used ourselves!


To begin, our team will typically send an introductory email or Facebook Messenger post to a potential sponsor. These messages may look something like this:




















Here, be sure to note a few key elements of the messages used:


  • Quick description of the event
  • Mention of any eye-catching stats (“1,000+ young professionals and millennials in attendance”)
  • Request for a follow-up call or meeting


After your first contact, you’ve hopefully received a response from the person you’ve contacted, and can continue your discussion by setting up a phone call or in-person meeting.
What you will probably find, however, is that you do not receive many responses on your first outreach. If this is the case, we suggest sending another email / message / call a few days to a week later, quickly touching base with an email similar to the screenshot below:








With the follow-up messages, you’ll notice that they do not contain as much information as the first message. Another tactic here is to add in some information on any other sponsors you have secured already, as this will signal to new potential sponsors that your event is an important one to take part in!


As you (and your committee) continue reaching out to potential sponsors, it is important to stick to some sort of process. One of our favorite ways to keep track of those you have contacted is by creating a simple spreadsheet, with the following columns:


  • Company Contacted
  • Contact Information
  • Date Contacted
  • Result


Using a document like this will allow you to check in on those you have contacted each day, allowing you to plan your follow-up messages or phone calls.


  1. Tips and Tricks


Over the years, we have learned a few tips and tricks that should help as your team begins soliciting sponsors for your next fundraising event. Feel free to share these with your committee!


  1. Appeal to your target sponsors – Prior to contacting a potential sponsor, do a bit of research. Is the company interested in reaching millennials? If so, tell them that your attendance will consist of many people in that age range (as long as that is true).


Additionally, try to frame their participation in your event as a marketing opportunity. To do so, you can provide stats on the impressions that your event will generate (both in person and online).


  1. Mention Your Other Sponsors – Once you begin securing sponsors, include a quick mention of them in your outreach emails to new sponsors. This will be a great tactic in convincing new sponsors to join, as they will see that other companies value a sponsorship opportunity at your event.


  1. Reach Out Often / Mix It Up – When contacting potential sponsors, multiple outreach attempts will be necessary. We rarely see high response rates from the first outreach attempt to potential sponsors. It is not until the 3rd or 4th attempt that you will get higher response rates. Additionally, mix up the channels that you are using to contact potential sponsors (see the recommended channels above).


  1. Start Local – Local companies are a great place to start. Any local businesses will already feel more connected to your cause, and will be more likely to support you.


  1. Target Fast-Growing Companies – Fast-growing companies are also a great target for sponsorship. These companies are always looking to get their name in front of more people in order to grow their brand equity. Furthermore, many of these companies will be looking to rapidly hire new talent – talent that may even be present at your event! We’ve frequently described our event as an opportunity for sponsor companies to meet their next potential hire.


  1. Don’t Give Up! – Did you receive a hard no from a potential sponsor? Don’t give up there! Instead, ask them what you can do to be considered for next year’s event. And if it makes sense, ask if the business would be able to provide a silent auction or raffle item in lieu of a sponsorship.


Acknowledgement and Follow Up


The final part of our guide is all about thanking your sponsors. Donating funds to your fundraising event is extremely generous, so don’t forget to acknowledge your sponsors adequately.
Of course, the first thing you should do is make sure each of your sponsors receives the recognition they deserve based on their tier / contribution level. As discussed before, this could be anything from logo placements on your website to signage at your fundraising event.


Another great way to give some added attention to your sponsors is to make a quick announcement at your event. Here, you will spend most of your time thanking your attendees and talking about your cause, but also try to sneak in a quick thank you to your sponsors.
Finally, when your event has ended, always be sure to follow up with your sponsors. Handwritten thank yous are always a great way to add a personal touch to your appreciation. You can also provide periodic updates to your sponsors about the progress of your cause or organization throughout the year. This will help keep your fundraiser top of mind with your prior sponsors so that they will turn into repeat supporters!



After reading this guide, we hope that you feel much more prepared to grow your fundraiser by making sponsorship a central part of your next event. Feel free to share this guide with your fellow fundraisers, and good luck with your next fundraiser!



ZH_HeadshotZach Hagopian is the co-founder and COO of Accelevents, a mobile fundraising platform that enhances silent auctions and raffles through online and text-message bidding.  An active member in the Boston fundraising scene, Zach focuses on improving traditional fundraising methods and increasing fundraiser proceeds.




The final quarter of the year is here and it’s the BEST time for fundraising!

There’s finally a nip in the air and people are thinking about the upcoming holidays, which always leads to thinking about giving back.

In other words, they’re starting to think about who they’ll give to before the year ends.

If you’ve done a good job staying on their radar, they’re thinking about you.

If you haven’t, well, you still have time to build up the ‘know, like, and trust’ factor and motivate folks to support your good cause.


Year-End Fundraising

There’s SO much to do.  So, where do you start?

Here are 13 tips that will set you up for big fundraising success at the end of the year:

1. Lay out a plan. year-end fundraisingWhat do you want to accomplish? How much money do you need to raise?  This is no time to be reactive.  Lay out a proactive plan that includes all the fundraising activities you want to accomplish before December 31. No one raises big money in reactive mode. And a plan will make it easier to get volunteers and your Board involved. (If you were at the Inspired Fundraising Retreat, there’s a 3-page Year-End Fundraising Checklist in your workbook.)

2. Use consistent messaging.Think about what you need to say to warm your donors’ hearts, and use the same language over and over through your newsletters, social media, and everywhere you interact with donors and prospects.  Consistent messaging will stick in people’s minds and help them remember your good cause. Your core message can be simple like “let’s make hunger history” or “every life matters.” Just figure it out, make it donor-focused, and use it repeatedly across the next three months.

3. Get your website ready for visitors.Make sure your website is updated and ready when people visit. Most people will check you out online before they make a gift. There’s nothing worse than a donor or prospect visiting your website and finding information about an “upcoming event” that happened in 2009. Also make sure that your core message is front and center on the website – it helps tie things together in the donor’s mind. Be sure your “Donate Now” button works and that there’s a warm, sincere Thank You note ready to be automatically delivered when someone gives online.

4. Stock up on photos and stories of lives you’re changing.You should always be on the lookout for stories from the front lines that you can use to inspire your donors. Photos are even better. A few hours of gathering stories and details can reap big rewards and bring you lots of new material for your communications. Be sure to get releases for both and protect the privacy of your subjects as needed (you may need to strip out names or identifying details). Then share these stories liberally with your donors and prospects. People love stories, especially when there’s a happy ending!

5. Look for touch-points for your best donors.Make sure that your best donors get multiple warm touches during Fundraising Season. Thank-you phone calls, Holiday cards with no Ask, or invitations to stewardship events like an Open House can make a donor feel valued. These efforts are particularly important because you aren’t asking for money. Think about it: if you show up with your hand out every time you’re in their mailbox or inbox, they’re going to get mighty tired of hearing from you. These warm touches will make sure that doesn’t happen.

6. Optimize your newsletters.Make sure your newsletters between now and year-end have powerful, donor-based messaging, great photos, and help the donor feel good about supporting you. This is your time to shine the spotlight on the good work your organization does. Remember – it’s about them, not you, so share the stories and details your donors want to know.

7. Expand your speaking schedule.year-end fundraisingReach out to the civic clubs in town and see if you can get on their program schedule. Public speaking is one of the best ways to spread the word about your cause and get in front of ideal donor prospects. Check with your local library or Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a list of area clubs. Then tune up your presentation to make sure it starts by highlighting the need, shows how your nonprofit is poised to meet the need, and tells the story of a life that’s been changed by your organization. Finish with a clear call to action so you can walk away with new contacts, donors, volunteers, supporters, and maybe even more speaking gigs.

8. Pitch a story to your local news media.Getting on television or in the newspaper is still a great way to let lots of people know what your nonprofit is doing. It also helps build credibility for your organization, and can help you recruit new volunteers or supporters. The key is to pitch an interesting story that media folks will be interested in. The easier you make it for the media to use or run your story, the higher the chance you’ll get the kind of placement you want.

9. Let your Board members know how they can help.Share your plan with your Board members and invite them to choose where they’d like to help. Be prepared to have individual conversations with them – asking them as a group results in nearly no one raising their hand to help (but you already know that, don’t you?). When you have several very clear, well-defined activities for them to choose from, your chances of greater participation go up. After all, we all like knowing exactly what we’re saying ‘yes’ to and what’s expected of us.

10. Share a great video online.If you don’t have a powerful video of your nonprofit in action, get one created and share it on Facebook, YouTube, and your website in mid December. People are in the mood to feel good about organizations doing good work. Plus, it’s a great way to showcase your nonprofit’s activities.

11. Send a powerful appeal. It won’t do you any good to do all these other things if you’re not actually ASKING for a gift. And you need to do it a couple of times during Fundraising Season. Be sure to stay focused on the donor and tell them a story that inspires them and moves them to give. Ask for a specific amount and share exactly how that donation will change someone’s life. Then give clear instructions on how the donor should give – “return your gift in the envelope provided” or “click here to give online.”

12. Keep the beat on social media. year-end fundraisingBe prepared to show up consistently on Facebook and Instagram during Fundraising Season. Your social media posts may not be the reason people give, but they certainly help remind donors and prospects that you’re there and that you’re doing good work. Post several times a day (you can use a tool like Buffer to schedule these), and vary the content. In other words, don’t just ask, ask, ask. Share things your donor is interested in – success stories, links to related articles, memes, funny things… get creative with it! The key is to plan it out so you don’t miss a beat.

13.  Pour on the sizzle! You can easily add the WOW factor for your donors by getting a little creative. Host a Thank-A-Thon where donors get a thank-you call from a volunteer or Board member. Send your best donors a personalized Thank You video from the front lines of your organization. There are dozens more ideas out there – the point is to surprise and delight them. The extra time it takes to add the sizzle can result in bigger gifts or additional gifts this holiday season.

As the AHAs were popping, folks were sharing online.
People were tweeting and posting to social media like crazy last week from The Inspired Fundraising Retreat.  (You can search #InspiredGiving for more.)
I know not everyone could be there, so here are some of the best nuggets that were shared that will hopefully inspire you, too.



















Want to join us next time? We’ll be announcing the date and location for the 2017 Inspired Fundraising Retreat soon!

As an animal welfare organization, your chief concern is obviously the health and well-being of animals.

But in order to achieve that lofty (and undoubtedly worthy) goal, your nonprofit will need to figure out a way to fundraise effectively and efficiently — read: inexpensively!

You’re in the right place to pick up some new tricks. See, even old dogs can learn a thing or two with the help of the internet.

Have I got your tail wagging in anticipation yet? Hold tight; here are the 6 low-cost fundraising ideas I’m going to cover in this article:

#1. Look into Pet-Themed T-Shirts.

#2. Go Bow-Wow for Crowdfunding.

#3. Try Pet Tags for Your Organization.

#4. Give Doggie Treats a Wag.

#5. Raise More Dough with Yappy Hour.

#6. Host a Critter Crawl (Fun Run).

Interested in more ideas for nonprofits outside of the animal welfare sphere? Be sure to check out Booster’s ideas for product fundraisers.

#1. Look into Pet-Themed T-Shirts.

It’s so true that we can learn a lot from our pets.

They’re infinitely wise…and so full of love and joy.

You know what else brings small joy to my life?

That super comfy T-shirt that I purchased to benefit my local animal shelter.

It may have only cost a few bucks at the time, but the amount of comfort and pure joy it’s brought me is truly priceless.

This is all just to say that one of the best ways you can raise money for your animal welfare organization is to host a pet-themed T-shirt fundraiser.

T-shirt fundraisers are:

  • Extremely affordable,
  • Easy to pull off,
  • And effective as advertising!

At most, your T-shirt fundraiser will set you back a few dollars a pop, but rest assured that the ROI is high enough to justify the initial cost.

Or, you can choose a free T-shirt fundraising platform at no risk of losing money! Each shirt that you sell will have some of the profit deducted to cover costs, but your organization will always stay in the “green.”

Not only are T-shirts affordable; they’re also incredibly intuitive. Everyone gets the concept of a T-shirt fundraiser. There’s no need to waste time explaining anything.

Best of all: that custom T-shirt that you create (with adorable pictures of your shelter’s animals, of course!) is going to last a long time.

Like I said earlier, I still have shirts from fundraising campaigns years ago that I continue to wear to this day. And you can bet that I get questions about the organization featured on it.

I proudly tell them, “This is a shirt that I bought to support my local shelter. If you’re in a place to adopt a pet, you should absolutely look into their organization!”

That same scenario could easily happen to your nonprofit. It all starts with hosting a pet-themed T-shirt fundraiser.

What you should take away from this tip: If you’re looking for a way to raise money and awareness for your animal welfare organization for years to come, look no further than T-shirt fundraising.

#2. Go Bow-Wow for Crowdfunding.


The word around town is that crowdfunding is the way to go for both smaller and larger nonprofits alike.

Hold on a second, though: what exactly is crowdfunding?

To put it in layman’s terms (“Explain it to me like I’m 6!”), crowdfunding is the raising of funds from a large number of people — even if it means that many of the contributions are on the small side.

There are, of course, crowdfunding situations where some donors are major gift contributors.

But the essence of a crowdfunding campaign comes down to the way it’s run. Typically, it involves a nonprofit (like your animal welfare organization) giving its most active influencers the tools they need to be able to fundraise on behalf of the organization.

These tools are usually something along the lines of:

  • A link to a designated crowdfunding page,
  • Pre-written copy for social media posting,
  • A script for fundraising in person,
  • And any other necessities a fundraiser might require.

Their task, should they choose to accept the challenge, is to reach out to their respective networks — online and in real life — to get them to donate to your cause.

Pro-tip: it really helps to sell your fundraising efforts if you toss in a few unbearably cute animal videos and maybe an irresistible picture or two. Make sure you equip your influencers with ample (fuzzy) material.

Before you know it, your fundraising campaign is going to skyrocket, thanks to the help of your loyal supporters. Their friends, family members, and even their coworkers will likely become fans, if not members, of your organization in no time. Especially since they’ve gotten that personal stamp of approval from your existing supporter!

Long story short, crowdfunding is a two-paws-up idea when it comes to low-cost fundraising.

What you should take away from this tip: Look into crowdfunding as a way to leverage your existing donor base without expending extra energy or funds to drum up new supporters!

Click here to learn about Booster’s solution for crowdfunding for your Animal Welfare Organization.

#3. Try Pet Tags for Your Organization.

booster-getfullyfunded-low-cost-fundraising-section-header-3It’s truly a terrible thing when a pet goes missing.

Your nonprofit can be a part of the solution to this large and looming issue for mindful pet owners.

“How?” You ask.

By hosting a pet tag fundraiser for your animal welfare organization, your nonprofit can help pet lovers rest assured that their loved ones have IDs, and you’ll be raising money for your organization in the process.

It kills two birds with one stone (for lack of a more pet-friendly metaphor!).

Getting started with a fundraiser like this one will take a little bit of research and maybe a dash of inspiration.

Be on the lookout for local pet shops that may have deals on purchasing bulk tags. If you can’t seem to find a business in your area that will cut your organization some slack, you may want to try looking online.

There are plenty of sites that will allow you to custom order pet tags at a reasonable rate.

Once you’ve found a supplier, the most important ingredient to making this low-cost fundraiser a success is the marketing.

A great, cost-effective way to get the word out quickly is simply through your nonprofit’s email newsletter.

Give your mailing list and your loyal subscribers a head’s up through your monthly or weekly publication.

Be sure to include pictures of the adorable tags they could purchase for Fido or Fluffy.

In addition to sending out info via email, you might also consider:

  • Tacking up flyers around town,
  • Posting about it on social media,
  • Putting info up on your website,
  • And making announcements at meetings.

When people learn about this fundraiser, they’re bound to jump for joy! Because, as I mentioned earlier, this endeavor serves a dual purpose, both of which help animals.

What you should take away from this tip: Research pet tag fundraising as a low-cost way to raise money for your nonprofit as well as a way to keep the animals in your area safe and sound.

#4. Give Doggie Treats a Wag.

booster-getfullyfundedd-low-cost-fundraising-section-header-4Along the same lines as the pet tag fundraiser, a doggie treat fundraiser is great on many levels.

For one, doggie treats make pets and pet owners alike happy. Who doesn’t love to give their little Rover or Scooby a treat when he’s been a good boy?

On another level, they also make wonderful gifts for dog owners — meaning even your supporters who don’t own dogs themselves can get involved and purchase a few.

Additionally,  they’re inexpensive, so everyone all around can feel good about indulging!

And last (though certainly not least), the sale of these biscuits directly benefits your animal welfare organization!

All of these are great reasons to look into incorporating doggie treats into your low-cost fundraising repertoire.

By no means do you have to host a stand-alone doggie treat fundraiser — although nothing says  that you can’t do that.

One great idea for getting doggie treats in all the right paws is to make them a part of your next live fundraising event.

If you’re hosting a silent auction, for instance, you may want to feature a jar or two full of these delectable delights. Auction them off to the highest bidder, and you’ll be sure to rack up the donations from devoted dog lovers.

Likewise, if you offer up doggie treats at your next 5K event, you’re bound to intrigue participants who love to run with their pups.

Whichever route you choose to market those tasty dog bones or biscuits, just be sure to play up all of the benefits of purchasing a premium pet treat as a form of donating!

What you should take away from this tip: Doggie treats are worth looking into for your next low-cost fundraiser for various reasons, and they work really well when paired with live fundraising events.

#5. Raise More Dough with Yappy Hour.

booster-getfullyfunded-low-cost-fundraising-section-header-5What could be more fun and entertaining than being a part of a nice happy hour?

Participating in a yappy hour, of course!

For those who don’t know, a “yappy hour” follows the same principles as a human happy hour, but it adds that extra special element: our canine friends.

You read that correctly: a yappy hour is just like a happy hour with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, but the pups are invited as well… which means…

If you want to host this kind of fundraiser for your organization’s members, you’ll have to:

  • Find a location that can handle pets and people alike,
  • Create a menu for canines as well as humans,
  • And, of course, come up with appropriate decorations for the occasion.

With those stipulations in mind, you can start planning this fun, furry fiesta.

As far as treats go, in the winter you can offer up the doggie biscuits that I mentioned earlier, and in the summer, you can look into ice cream pops for pups.

Delight your members with bubbly mimosas in the summer and cozy hot toddies in the winter.

Pick the perfect pairings, and you’ll definitely have all parties panting for more!

The best part (aside from being able to attend a happy hour with your furry best friend) is that everyone in attendance will be there to help raise money for an awesome cause.

Because it’s such a low-key, low-cost event, the ROI should be substantial. And if it’s a hit this year, you can always make it a staple for your organization’s annual fundraising strategy.

If you’re interested in more ways to make your members feel appreciated, be sure to check out this guide to membership and association management.

What you should take away from this tip: If you’re in the market for a fundraiser that everyone can attend, you should certainly consider hosting a yappy hour for your nonprofit’s members.

#6. Host a Critter Crawl (Fun Run).

booster-getfullyfunded-low-cost-fundraising-section-header-6This final idea is purrfect for all of your active supporters.

They’ll stop chasing their tails when they hear that your organization is finally hosting a “critter crawl.”

In essence, a critter crawl lets supporters run wild while they raise money for your nonprofit. Okay, so maybe they’re not literally running wild; there’s a definite route, a starting point, and a finish line.

But you catch my drift!

A critter crawl is, for all intents and purposes, just a regular fun run that benefits an animal welfare organization, like an animal shelter or a humane society.

The best place to get started with planning this particular kind of fundraiser is deciding where exactly to host it.

Sniff around town and try to dig up some sponsorships and partnerships with local businesses. Having them on your side will make the whole process easier, and they may have some splendid ideas for locations in addition to helping fund, stock, and advertise for the event.

As soon as you’ve pinpointed the route for the race (and you’ve rounded up some support from the community), you can begin to advertise for the event.

Pro tip: Order T-shirts ahead of time to ensure that they arrive before the day of the race.

On the day of the race, set up clear signs to direct people where to:


  • Park their cars or bikes,
  • Register or sign up last minute,
  • Line up for the start of the fun run,
  • And where to pick up their race packets.

When people know precisely where to go at all times, they’re bound to have a better time.

Another surefire way to make your organization’s critter crawl a tail-waggin’ good time is to have fun yourself.

Your attendees want to see that you’re enjoying the event as much as they are, and you deserve to have a blast after planning such a fabulous fundraiser!

Looking for more warm and fuzzy fundraising ideas? Take a peek at Booster’s extensive list of fundraising ideas.

What you should take away from this tip: Critter crawls are marvelous for raising money and awareness while encouraging fun and fitness.

Whether it’s a fundraiser or just plain fundraising, there are so many options for your animal welfare organization to choose from.

From doggie treats to yappy hours, and yes, even critter crawls, you’ve got a veritable smorgasbord of low-cost fundraising goodness at your fingertips.

So try one — or try all; it’s up to you!


headshot-kerri-mooreWritten by:

Kerri Moore is the Director of Marketing at Booster, Created by CustomInk. She and her team help create content aimed at maximizing organizers’ fundraising potential and furthering their mission to raise awareness for the cause or passion that means the most to them.

I hear this all the time.

“Where do we find rich people to give to us?”



No. No. No.

If you’re looking for rich people, that tells me you care more about the money than the donor, and my friend, that is BACKWARD!

If you want to be wildly successful at fundraising and fully fund your budget, you need to value your donors as partners.

It’s like this: the goose is more valuable than the golden eggs she lays.

Get it?

Your nonprofit donor is valuable for the donation they make now and all the future ones they’ll make, too.

So, instead of looking for rich people, look for people who LOVE your organization’s mission and want to see you be successful.

 nonprofit donor

Time to get strategic about finding new donors

Being strategic about finding new donors can save you a lot of time and trouble, and bring you donors who will stick around a long time.

So why aren’t more nonprofits using a winning strategy to find new donors?

I believe they haven’t thought it through or they’re just doing whatever is in front of them to get new donors in the door. They’re using shame and guilt, which might work short-term, but are really bad strategies for finding donors who will hang around long-term.

nonprofit donor3 Common Mistakes

Here are 3 common mistakes made by nonprofits looking for new donors.
1. The Passion Myth. You may think that because you’re passionate about your cause, everyone else is, too. But the truth is, they probably aren’t. You’ll find a few people who are as passionate as you about your cause. And you’ll find more who care but don’t have the same level of deep concern. Stop expecting people to mirror your enthusiasm, and be willing to accept whatever level of concern they bring. You might be able to fan the flames a bit and engage them deeper in your work, but that will take effort and strategy.
2. Casting a wide net. Don’t try to appeal to your entire community. Remember, not everyone gives to charity, and of those who do, most have their favorites. Trying to get in front of your entire community is a “spray and pray” method – you’re sharing your message with everyone and hoping someone responds. It’s not usually effective. An example is getting a story in the newspaper or on TV. It’s easy to get excited about the hundreds or thousands of people who will see it, but there’s really only a small segment of the readers/viewers who will care, and of those, a smaller segment will actually take action.
3. Dry Pond approach. You’re not fishing where the fish are. You’re showing up wherever you can to speak or network and hoping that because your nonprofit does good work that people will support you. Then you’re disappointed when they don’t. This is why sometimes it’s a total waste of your time to go speak to a group or attend a networking event – they’re not the right audience for you, so they’ll listen politely, but at the end of the day, they’re not going to help you change more lives.
How do you avoid these mistakes and add hundreds of good, new donors to your family?

Ideal Donor Profile

Start by creating an Ideal Donor Profile to give you an idea of exactly who you’re looking for.

An Ideal Donor Profile identifies the top psychographics and demographics of your best donor, so that you can go find more people just like them.

Think about that: if you knew a few key details of your best donors, wouldn’t it make donor acquisition a lot easier?

It doesn’t have to be complicated to figure out.

Sit down with a blank piece of paper and think about your top donors. Jot down their names. What do they have in common? Think about their age, their gender, their education, and whatever else you can think of. Write each one down.  If you can get at least 3-5 things, this will help.

When I worked at the food bank, I did this exercise. It was very unscientific. I just thought about some of our best donors. Some of them were our biggest donors and some weren’t, but they were consistent and often sent words of encouragement with their check.

nonprofit donor

Here’s what I figured out about them:

  • Women
  • Aged 55-70
  • College educated
  • Attended church services regularly
  • Volunteered in the community

I looked at that list and said “where can I go find more people just like that?”

After thinking a bit, it occurred to me that women’s groups at churches might be a place where I could find ideal donors easily and in large numbers. I started asking around to see who belonged to a women’s group where I could go speak, and got several leads. I put together a hot presentation with a clear call to action, and off I went. I remember at one church, almost everyone in the room signed up to hear more about our work and how they could get involved. Several ladies handed me a check before I left, and a few days later, I got a check from the group as a whole.

The key, really, is to know who your best current donors are, then go find more people just like them.

You’ll be way more likely to get donors that will give bigger and give longer.

Want more help with your ideal donor prospect? I’ll be going into detail at The Inspired Fundraising Retreat. You’ll get my worksheets to help you figure out the demographics and interests of your ideal donor, and get the chance to brainstorm it with others. Register at

You know how sometimes you look around at the work your nonprofit is doing and think “We need more money. If we had more money, we could ________.”

That kind of thinking is usually triggered by either lack or vision.

Lack looks like “we don’t have enough money and we need more to keep our doors open.”

Vision looks like “it’s time for us to grow and it’s going to take money to do it.”

A couple of years ago, Horse Haven of Tennessee needed to grow. I was (still am) a member of the Board and had just attended the annual event called “Dancing for the Horses.” It’s like “Dancing with the Stars” with the added bonus that our “celebrity” dancers compete not just on the dance floor, but also in fundraising. We crown a winning Dancer and a winning Fundraiser.

event revenueSo, two years ago, I sponsored a table at the event and attended with my friends like a good Board member should. It was a nice event, but not particularly profitable. Our gross that year was $16,000 and I think we cleared about $10,000. Not bad, but not great either.

I said to our Executive Director that it was time to ramp that event up. Having done events for many years, I could see places where it could easily improve. I told her we needed to start by putting a committee in place.

She said “Great. You’re in charge.”

Should have seen that one coming. 😉

So, I agreed to chair the committee, and I started recruiting members.

About that same time, we brought 4 hot, new members onto our Board. Two of them jumped onto the committee with me, and we added a couple more people from our volunteer pool. It wasn’t a big committee, but we were excited.

We started by reworking the sponsorship levels. Then we recruited great dancers who would also fundraise. We got sponsors. We beefed up the silent auction. We added opportunities for people to give to their favorite dancer at the event. When the dust settled at the end of the evening, we had raised $55,000!

event revenueAs you can imagine, there was a lot of whooping and hollering from the committee that night!

Hold on to your seats folks, ‘cause that’s not all!

Our committee is a bit competitive (probably an understatement), and the next year, we decided to play even bigger. A few new folks joined the committee, and we went after it again – dancers, sponsors, silent auction, etc.

We booked a swanky new venue. We specifically recruited dancers who could raise big bucks, not just anyone who would say “yes” to us. We got silent auction items we were sure our attendees wanted. And we recruited an army of volunteers to help pull the whole thing off.

The night of the event was fantastic. Before the event even started, we had raised more than the previous year, and when the smoke cleared at the end of the night, our grand total was $93,000 and change.

Soak that it. We went from $16,000 to over $93,000 in just 2 years. That’s over 5 times the money!

Let me tell you, it was a LOT of fun to be part of!

I’ve had a great time sharing that story with my clients and students. And here’s what everyone wants to know:

“How did you do it?”

I’ve thought a lot about what we did to generate that kind of increase. Here are what I believe are the 5 keys to our success:

1. We created a committee.

Don’t roll your eyes at this one. We put a committee in place and it made a world of difference.

The committee planned and executed the event. We gave the committee authority to make decisions about the event (this is critical!) and the committee’s work was driven by the committee, not by staff. That meant that the committee decided what needed to happen to make the event a success. Everyone took a role. And we were able to make decisions as a committee about the event without waiting for the Executive Director to decide. It made the planning work so much easier.

Now, I know that may sound scary, but here’s why it worked: The two committee leaders were Board members and had experience planning and running events. In other words, we knew what we were doing and there was trust between the committee leaders and the staff. Trust is critical for committee success.

We kept the communication lines open among committee members, with the staff, and with the Board, so that everyone knew what was happening with the event.

We set a clear goal for the revenue we wanted from the event, and we went after it. We broke that overall goal down into smaller goals for sponsorship, ticket sales, silent auction, dancer fundraising, and general donations. We knew exactly how much money each piece of the puzzle should bring in.

Creating a committee that works is an art form. You can put a bunch of people together and call them a committee, but if they don’t actually get something done, it doesn’t count. A functioning, wildly successful committee has a specific purpose, members know how they’ll measure success, and they’re exciting to be a part.

Many hands really DO make light work.

2. We had Connectors.

Connectors are people who have connections and are willing to bring them to the table. Several of us on the committee that first year had a couple of connections to bring in, and then there was Jacqui. She knew LOTS of people and got lots of them involved in the event. She brought in sponsors, she recruited dancers, she sold tables – she was like the Energizer Bunny when it came to raising money for the event!

We are lucky to have Jacqui. And I guarantee you there’s one in your community ready to help you. In fact, they’re probably already giving or volunteering to your organization – you just have to recognize them. He or she is not going to call you one day and say “Hey, I’m ready to leverage my contacts for you.” You need to identify that Connector among your supporters, then give him/her a reason to get involved.

And once they’re involved, keep it fun and make sure they’re supported. That can be as simple as making sure they have someone to talk with, plan with, laugh with, and vent to. And a little glass of wine every now and again doesn’t hurt either. 😉

3. We made things fun.

event revenueWe knew that the more fun people had at our event, the more they would talk about it in the community, and the easier it would be the next year. So, we paid attention to every little detail that we could to make it as fun as possible.

For example, instead of having an intermission where people just wandered around, we invited everyone to the dance floor for line dancing. Yes we did the Cupid Shuffle and the Electric Slide, and it was a HOOT! It revved up the energy in the room and got everyone smiling, which is a good thing if you’re raising money.

We also brought our nonprofit’s little mascot, Twinkie, in for the photo booth. Everyone loved getting their picture made with him and he was adorable in his top hat!

4. We upleveled our sponsors.

We reworked our sponsorship levels and then went after all the sponsorship money we could get. Previously, the biggest sponsorship level was $2,500. We all agreed that we would never raise the kind of money we needed unless we had lots of big sponsors. So we created sponsorship levels like this:

  • $10,000 Platinum Sponsor
  • $5,000 Gold Sponsor
  • $2,500 Silver Sponsor
  • $1,000 Bronze Sponsor
  • $500 Crystal Sponsor

Interestingly, in both of the years of crazy success, we didn’t have a $10,000 or a $5,000 sponsor. But we had 8 sponsors at the $2,500 level and lots at the $1,000 level. That proved to me that you don’t have to have people giving giant checks to your event to raise record-breaking money.

At the event, we made sure our sponsors had the best seats. We pointed them out to our Board members and asked each one to personally thank each sponsor during the evening (which was a win-win because it got the Board involved!). We had a special reception just for sponsors before the event started to give them a chance to have a first look at the silent auction and to mingle a bit.

We know that there are a couple of those $2,500 sponsors that might be willing to upgrade next year if we cultivate them correctly.

5. We believed we could do it.

Mindset is so important to fundraising. If you think you can be successful, you will. If you don’t, you won’t.

It never occurred to any of us that we couldn’t do better than $16,000. We just didn’t know HOW much more we could do. And it didn’t matter.  We knew that every dollar we raised would help take care of abused and neglected horses in the coming year, and we stayed focused on that.

We’re taking the summer off, but will start meeting again in September to plan the event for next year. Who knows what we’ll set as a goal!

Want to learn how to do this for your nonprofit? Join us September 28-30for The Inspired Fundraising Retreat in Nashville, TN. You’ll learn how to find ideal donors, warm their hearts, and move them to give. Earlybird registration is open now!